There are lots of different models popping up all over the internet to allow people to invest small amounts of money. Zopa, Kiva, Lending Club are all about lending money. JustGiving is about donations. Kickstarter and Profunder are about donations with no expectation of a return, although at some point you might get a share in something.
This area is heavily regulated by the FSA in the UK and so donations rather than soliciting for investment seems to be the way small businesses are getting around the stringent and necessary rules.
Have a look at Kickstarter for some interesting arts based projects where you can donate your hard earned cash: http://www.kickstarter.com/ You can support someone making an album, producing a book of photographs, or someone dancing….
Here is the useful Wikipedia entry if you want to read more about crowdfunding.